Former President Thabo Mbeki and his foundation have expressed sadness over the passing of the former President of Tanzania Benjamin Mkapa earlier today, describing it as an immense loss to “our continent at a time when we needed his wisdom to help our continent think through the solutions to the intractable challenges we face, which have been compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
“We extend our deepest condolences to the Mkapa family, H.E. President John Magufuli and through him to the sister people of Tanzania and Ben Mkapa’s organisation, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM),” the Thabo Mbeki Foundation says in a statement.
The organisation says Mkapa’s dedication and commitment to rid Africa of colonialism and apartheid enabled Tanzania and her people to serve as the Mecca of the liberation movements in Southern Africa, including the ANC.
Mkapa’s diplomatic responsibilities included ambassadorships in Canada, the United States, and Nigeria. Later he was appointed to the position of Foreign Minister.
“His practical dedication and commitment to the achievement of the progressive transformation of Tanzania and the unity and renaissance of Africa further informed his activities after his retirement from government. In this context, he remained engrossed with matters of peace and development of our continent and through the Benjamin Mkapa Foundation focused sharply on improving health care in Tanzania.”
“As he rests, we will pick up the spear from where he dropped it and help to promote the achievement of the noble objectives to which he dedicated his life and work,” the statement concludes.
Earlier, President Cyril Ramaphosa also sent his condolences to Mkapa’s family and the people of Tanzania. He described him as a visionary leader.
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta described Mkapa as an outstanding East African “who worked tirelessly for the integration, peace, and progress of the region.
African Union Commission Chair, Moussa Faki Mahamat has described him as a peacekeeper in the East African region.
The US, German, Belgian, and Chinese embassies in Tanzania also sent their condolences.
Tanzania’s President John Magufuli has declared a seven-day mourning period, during which all flags will be flown at half-mast and revealed that his memorial service will be held at the national stadium.
Mkapa led the country from 1995 to 2005. He served as a Foreign Affairs Minister between 1977 and 1980, also played a key role in encouraging the United Nations to implement sanctions against apartheid-era South Africa as a punishment for its occupation of Namibia.
Even in his retirement, Mkapa mediated peace talks in East and Central Africa, including in South Sudan, the DRC Congo, Zimbabwe, Burundi, and Kenya.
He was 81 years old at the time of his passing.